Tip #15 for Acton Academy Parents

Tip #15: Celebrate constraints.

Boundaries, constraints, disciplined living.

These themes run throughout the design of the curriculum and studio life at Acton Academy.


Because the disciplined life is the good life. Constraints and healthy boundaries lead to stronger relationships, flow in work, creative discoveries and, ironically, freedom.

Choosing to embrace constraints takes life beyond mindlessly following rules toward making responsible decisions.

Here are some examples of constraints and boundaries at Acton Academy:

The student contract is our ultimate boundary. Smaller daily constraints are time limits, deadlines, numbers of words required in a writing piece, budgets for books and supplies.

Each limit teaches us how to live with attentive discipline to our choices.

The Eagles will have opportunities to discuss and practice the idea of personal discipline over and over again – from Entrepreneurship/Finance challenges to Chemistry quandaries; and from Town Meeting agenda items to rules of engagement for Socratic discussion participation.

Our children will learn to hold each other accountable and give thoughtful, careful feedback to help each other move forward on their hero’s journeys.

Be prepared.

For parents – and this comes from my personal experience as a mom – it hurts very much to watch your child be held to strict standards by their peers. I never experienced this kind of honesty and open feedback in my entire school career or childhood family life. I realized quickly, though, that my boys are better at receiving feedback than I ever was.

I’ve seen so much growth over time in my children in large part due to this process of integrating healthy boundaries and choosing personal discipline over mere obedience to a system. You can’t game this and therein lies the beauty.

I know deep in my heart that this kind of accountability is the opposite of “ratting each other out.” It is authentic, relational living. It takes courage, honesty and practice.

Holding boundaries is not easy or fun for guides or Eagles. It would take far less effort to make exceptions, accept shabby work, or ignore blatant misrepresentation of deliverables.

But the alternative is a fast trip into mediocrity and laziness – a place we refuse to go because our children are worth more.